Minnesota State Law Library
Updating Your Research
The law changes constantly--new cases are decided, new statutes are enacted or existing ones are amended or repealed. How do you know if the statute, regulation or case you found is still good law?
Table of Contents
Using Citators to Evaluate the Status of Cases
Finding Newer Cases with West's Key Number Digests and Reporters
- Check your key number in the pocket supplement ("pocket part") in the back of the digest volume.
- Look for a later cumulative supplement, which updates the pocket parts, at the end of the digest volumes.
- On the back of the title page, these supplements give the last reporter volume they cover. Find the newer volumes in the advance sheets of the reporter and check the key number digesting in each.
- Cases can also be searched by topic and keynumber on Westlaw.
- The most recent Minnesota cases are posted weekly on the Court's website, and then transferred to an archive on the Minnesota State Law Library's Web site. They are also published in Minnesota Lawyer.
Finding Newer Case Annotations in the Annotated Codes
- Check the pocket part for the volume.
- Look for a separate pamphlet supplement, which updates the pocket parts, at the end of the set.
- Recent cases can also be searched on Lexis and Westlaw by using the statute number as a keyword.
Using Citators to Evaluate the Status of Cases
A case can be reversed on appeal to a higher court or overruled by a later decision of the same court. Citator services, such as Shepard's Citations and KeyCite, allow you to evaluate the status of a case by examining later cases that cited it. KeyCite is available on Westlaw; Shepard's is on Lexis. The print version of Shepard's suffers a time delay in printing and shipping, so for the most up-to-date information, you should use the online version.
Using Shepard's in Print
- Find the most recent pamphlet, which should be dated within the last three months.
- Look at the front cover for "What your library should contain."This section lists all the volumes that currently comprise the set.
- Look up your case by its volume and page number. Make sure you check each Shepard's volume and pamphlet in which your case would appear.
- Instructions on reading a list of citations can be found at the front of the Shepard's volume.
Using Shepard's and KeyCite online is as simple as typing your citation into the window and clicking GO. The citation lists are also easier to read in the online services and there are several options for trimming the list to meet your needs. These resources are available on the public computers.
Finding Recent Amendments, etc., for Minnesota Statutes
- Check the pocket part. Note through which session of the legislature the pocket part is current.
- Find the most recent pamphlet of West's Minnesota Session Law Service or the current year's Laws of Minnesota. In the back is a cumulative Table of Statutes New, Amended or Repealed (Table 2) arranged by statute section.
- The session laws and Table 2 are also available online.
Printed supplements to the official United States Code come out so slowly that they are not useful.
United States Code Annotated (USCA) and United States Code Service (USCS)
- Check the pocket part. (When a pocket part gets too large, it is published as a softbound supplement and shelved next to the volume.) Note through which session of Congress the pocket part is current.
- United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) prints new public laws. Find the most recent supplement to USCCAN. In the back is a cumulative Table of Sections Amended, Repealed, New, etc. (Table 3) arranged by code section.
Finding New Amendments, etc., for Federal Regulations
- Check the date on the cover of the volume of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
- Find the most current List of Sections Affected (LSA) booklet. If there is a gap in the dates between this pamphlet and the CFR volume, look also for the earlier pamphlet that is the annual cumulation for your title of CFR. Between these two, you should have uninterrupted dates from the date of the CFR volume to the most current LSA.
- Find the latest issue of the Federal Register. The table of CFR Parts Affected in the Reader Aids section in the back of the issue is cumulative for the month. Check the last day of each month since the latest LSA.
- A current list of parts affected, including information from today's issue of the Federal Register, is also available online from the Government Printing Office.
- The E-CFR is an up-to-date, unofficial version of CFR from the Government Printing Office.
Finding New Amendments, etc., for Minnesota Rules
- Check the pocket part. Note the date through which it is current.
- New and amended Minnesota rules are published in the State Register. Each weekly issue contains a table of Minnesota Rules: Amendments and Additions right after the table of contents. This table is cumulated quarterly. Look first for the annual cumulation in issue 52 (the last Monday in June) of the volume year that includes the closing date from the Rules volume pocket part. Check quarterly cumulations after that, ending with the most recent issue.
- Minnesota Rules online are updated when new rules become final. The State Register is also available online..
Updating ALR Annotations
- For most ALR series (3d, 4th, 5th, 6th & Fed.), check the pocket part.
- For ALR 2d, use the Later Case Service volumes, and their pocket parts.
- For ALR (first series), use the ALR Blue Book of Supplemental Decisions. It is divided by time period, so you will have to check more than one volume.
- The Annotation History Tables in the last volume of the ALR Index can tell you whether an annotation has been superseded or supplemented before you read it.
Many treatises are updated with pocket parts. Looseleaf treatises may be updated by supplemental pages, usually in a different color when placed in the front of the volume or by dated replacement pages within the treatise. Be sure to check the date of any supplementation and remember that its text was probably written many months before.
Law Reviews and Journals are not updated. Use indexes and citators to find more recent articles. Use the techniques in this handout to update statutes and cases that you find in journal articles.
Minnesota State Law Library: Updating Your Research
Last updated on November 6, 2012.
Links checked on June 25, 2012.
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